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If there has been one habit that has really helped me pull my life together, it has been an evening routine. Most people credit their morning routines as their life altering holy grail. Really, for me, it has been establishing set routines and habits in the evening to prepare for the next day.
And really, what better time to start an evening routine than Fall? Imagine this: you come home on a chilly day, plant yourself on the couch with a blanket, a glass of wine/cup of tea, a fireplace (I hope you all share my excessive enthusiasm about fireplaces. And tea.) and all of the things you need to make your life great? Is there any better place to be curled up with a book, listening or a podcast or planning your week? No? Right. Didn’t think so.
The evening routine is critical because it is really the preparation and building block of your next day. You already can’t do anything to change what has happened today, but you can certainly pick yourself up and make sure that tomorrow is great.
So what should you include in your evening routine?
Prep for the next day
This is really the absolute most important thing to include, and it needs to be done before you start sipping back that glass of wine we talked about earlier. Everything else that you choose to do is totally optional except this. If you don’t prepare for the next day, you are going to be running late, life is going to be chaotic, and you’re going to end up on this downward spiral that is going to ruin your mindset for the whole day. You can’t meet goals like that.
First off, prepare your food for the day. Whether you have to leave the house early to head out to work or you know you’re going to be home looking after kids all day, prepare your food. Decide what you’re going to have for each meal and do what you can to prepare. This is going to be key to having a productive day. You’re going to make sure you have a great breakfast that is going to help fuel you through the day. Your lunch is going to be balanced and you’re going to be super pumped that you made good choices, which will then spill into other areas of your life. Once dinner time comes, there is no stress! Defrost something if necessary, prep vegetables to go in a slow cooker in the morning, make sure your lunch is packed…I know you have this all figured out, and your day is going to be so much better for it.
Figure out your clothing situation. Pick out your clothes for the next day, and everyone else’s too if you have any little humans that are dependent on you. The time to look for socks is not 5 minutes before you leave the door, only to find they’re all wet in the washer because you forgot to switch clothes over to the dryer (can you tell I’ve been here before?). Choose your clothes, lay it out, make sure everything is clean.
If you’re someone who heads to the gym, where is your stuff? Do you have your bag packed? No? Well, you probably aren’t going to end up going. Go pack your bag and put it somewhere you know you won’t forget it.
Next: Where are your keys? Where is your purse? Where is your wallet? These are the things that are going to slow you down in the morning. Make sure you know where this stuff is!
Also, clean. Tidy up whatever you can. There is a purpose behind this: if you come out of your bedroom tomorrow morning and everything is a mess, how is that going to make you feel? For me, there is literally nothing worse than coming down the steps and seeing undone dishes or crap lying around the house. It’ll take you just a few minutes, do it now.
Plan for the next day
Alright, you made it through the basics. Time to settle in with your blankets and drinks. Break out the planner and the pretty pens. I use my Day Designer because it gives me the ultimate control over my day. I can choose my top tasks for the day, form a to-do list, menu plan and write out a daily schedule, hour by hour. It is so easy to time block in the Day Designer. I love it, you guys.
Spend some time figuring out exactly what needs to be done tomorrow. Write in the things that are absolutely necessary to be done, and write in the things that are non-negotiable for you to have a good day tomorrow. For me, I need to make sure that I plan in time for blogging and making this place awesome for you guys. Whatever your goals are, make a top three and write them down. Hold yourself accountable.
I find that reading books that motivate me towards meeting my goals are good to throw in here. I don’t often have time to read or listen to podcasts throughout the day, so this is prime time for some personal development. You don’t have to put limits on this. If you want to read 10 pages, read ten pages. If you have an hour to spare, go for it. This is a great time of day to invest in yourself and your well being.
Get In Your Head
I won’t say meditate, because I know that the idea of meditation turns some people off. I will say, though, that it is super important to take some time by yourself to think. You need to set goals and you need to figure out plans. You need to process what has happened to you during the day. You need to tell off the people that you never told off during the day (Anyone else do this? No? Just me, then.) So whatever you want to call it, take that time to get all those thoughts out of your head so that they aren’t running into tomorrow. Those thoughts need to stay on this day.
Do Something Fun
Do something that you enjoy. This is your time for self-care. This is the time of the day that is set aside specifically for you. You’ve done a lot for other people during the day and now is the time to give back to you. Watch some Netflix, scroll through Instagram, spend time with your partner.
So there you have it, an evening routine. It may take a while to figure out what works for you, but I can promise that it will work for you. My life became exponentially better when I implemented just these few things every single night.
I don’t know about you, but autumn is my happy place.
I’m not talking about the mass amount of pumpkin everything. Fall to me is the sight of fresh calendars to plan on and the feeling of making those first marks in a fresh notebook. Fall is equal to new opportunities in my books! Can you tell that I’ve spent way too many years of my life in school?
Autumn is kind of like a “second New Year” for me. The year is winding down, I had goals and plans that I needed to accomplish, and it’s a great time to check-in with myself to reshape how the rest of the year is going to go.
From September 1st to December 31st you have 121 days to get yourself together and hit all of the goals that you were talking about way back in January.
Realistically, your entire life could change in 121 days. If you started something now, just imagine how successful you could be by December 31st. What do you wish you had started 121 days ago? Your own business? A habit? Think about how much you could have accomplished if you had just started when you said you were going to.
You have just spent all summer most likely vacationing, not eating properly, perhaps sleeping in, off your normal routine. September is coming and it’s your chance to redeem yourself in your own eyes. Could there be any better feeling than ringing in the New Year, knowing that you just spent four solid months rocking at life?
I’ve created a 30 day challenge for you to do just that. Each day has a very simple task to complete that will help you get through fall like a badass. The key is to ensure that you’re implementing what you intend to do!
Sign-up here to download your 30 Things To Do This Month Productivity Challenge Calendar!
I have spent the past few weeks in a bit of a whirlwind. Nothing was really going as planned, things kept randomly popping up, children were being challenging and I kept making to-do lists that weren’t getting checked off. Every time I made a list and things didn’t get done, I became more and more anxious. I constantly had inner dialogue running on a loop in my brain that sounded something like “You still need to write that blog post but you still haven’t managed to clear off the kitchen sink and get lunch yet”. I was constantly beating myself up over the things that I wasn’t being successful with. The more I did this, the more I wasn’t getting accomplished. My I lost more and more motivation as my days went on.
It is so easy to get sucked into the pattern of not initiating a task because you haven’t finished another one. It is even easier to get pulled into a pattern of negative self talk. We have been mentally conditioned that we need to be so busy and so successful. When I’m not functioning on the level I want to be, when I’m not efficient and rocking life, my natural thought pattern immediately turns to giving myself a hard time. Once you get to this point, it is hard to pull yourself out of it. It seems like nothing you do is enough, you feel like a bit of a loser and you begin to think that you will be like this forever. This is what we call a “rut”.
Finally, after almost three weeks of not being efficient, I decided to put my foot down with myself. I managed to pull myself together and get things done by doing 5 simple things.
1. Refresh your brain
In order to move past my vortex of inefficiency and negativity, I had to start from scratch. I looked through all of the missed “to-do” lists, crossed off the things that didn’t matter anymore. I prioritized what was left and added some new items that were important to me. I had been stewing and procrastinating over a blog post that I had set in my planner. For some reason I couldn’t make myself write it (another time, friends!). Instead, I’m here writing this one, which is flowing quite easily. Instead of focusing on the exact thing that needed to be done, the main goal was to just be productive and be successful at something to get myself started and boost my motivation. The important thing was I needed to write a blog post. I chose a different topic, but here I am. Success.
2. Take a break
Another thing I did to get on with my life was to take a small break. I went out to lunch with my sister and best friend in a fancy restaurant that we probably would have reserved for a formal business lunch. We dressed up for no reason at all and I just enjoyed spending time away from all of the things I wasn’t getting done at home. Some may call this procrastination. I call this rejuvenation. I spent all of 1.5 hours away from reminders of how much I wasn’t getting done and felt like a new person because of it.
3. Make a new plan
A lot of the reason I have been struggling lately is because my normal routine has been chaos due to summer (who said this was the best season, anyway? Not me). There are lots of more fun things to be doing and barbecues to be attending than usual. I’m a creature of habit and I thrive best in a very structured environment. I had to sit down, figure out why things weren’t working, and then make a new plan to adjust to what needs to be done. I do have young children, so part of that was restructuring meal times and bed times in order to still accommodate the things that I need to do to feel fulfilled as a person outside of being a mother.
4. Dig in
There is no sense in refreshing and planning if you don’t just pull yourself together and do what needs to be done. I had to schedule a time where I was able to spend a few solid hours doing what I needed to do. Some of it was work, but some of it was personal tasks that I needed just in order to feel good about where I am in life right now. It’s hard to carve that time out when you have been away from it, but time spent being successful will motivate you towards continued success.
5. Improve your inner dialogue
When I think back over the past few weeks, I now realize how horrible I was to myself. If anyone had said these things to me, I would be so offended. I had no problem reeling it off in my brain, though. This may be the most important step – changing my self talk is what really pulled me out of the inefficiency rut I was stuck in. I went from “Why are you not able to get things done? Why are you the only person who can’t manage to keep it together?” to “You’ve got this, it’s only one blog post. It’s only one load of laundry. It’s only one bill payment. You can do this, you’re an intelligent, capable person”. Realistically, none of the things that were holding me back these past few weeks were really in my control (Okay, so I may have watched more than one episode of Big Brother when I should have been getting stuff done). I didn’t need to be so hard on myself. Once you get into that train of thought, it is exceptionally hard to get out of it. So for you reading this- stop it, right now!
What is your best method for pulling yourself out of a rut?
Using a planner to organize your day is the key to success. You’d be amazed at how many extra hours are in the day if you make a plan and stick to it. I used to feel like there was never enough time to do what needed to be done during the day. I could never figure out how everyone else managed to do so much when I was struggling with basic day-to-day life things. Enter into my life:
Try as I might, setting reminders on my phone wasn’t working for me. I tried so many online ways to organize my time and none of them ever helped me get any further ahead. I really needed the whole package deal that comes with a physical planner. Opening it up, smelling fresh paper, writing on crisp pages with new pens…okay, okay. So I’m a bit of a nerd about this stuff.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need a thousand planner stickers to make it creative and colourful. You just need a calendar, day planner and something to write with.
Choose your planner
Before all else, make sure you have a planner that you are actually going to use. There are different options. You can buy daily planners or weekly planners. There are vertical layouts and horizontal layouts. Choose what works for you. There is nothing that is going to become more un-used than a planner that doesn’t actually work for your life.
Do you want to schedule your day hour by hour? Go with a daily planner. More casual about your time? A weekly is probably for you.
Like breaking your days into chunks or categories? I would stick with a vertical planner. If you’re okay with writing a to-do list but are flexible with your time, I suggest a horizontal.
I have used weekly planners and they have helped me ease into being more productive. I started out with Me and My BIG Ideas Hello Life Planner.I loved this planner dearly and it was really what sold me on using a planner. It is so colourful and provides tons of space to plan every aspect of your day.
I’ve felt the need this year to move into a daily planner for ultimate control over my day. This year I’ve been using the Day Designer. I love this one because it really breaks down your whole day, including your goals, meals and your top tasks for the day. It also comes in gorgeous prints to fit your mood or vibe for the year. I have used several different planners over the past few years but I feel like I have settled here and will continue to use this planner next year as well.
Some people go all out with this. There is actually a planning “culture” as it turns out. One quick search on Youtube for “Plan with me” videos or a quick look up of #planning on Instagram will show you how in depth some of this is. While I love decorated planners, I find it best to just stick to a few different colour pens. I started decorating my planner and then I found that I spent more time trying to make it look nice than actually planning anything. This is totally up to you. Go wild! Just make sure you really get planning done.
Plan Your Life
The first thing I do when I sit down with my planner is have a glance at my monthly calendar. Any important appointments or events are then filled into my daily calendar.
Next, I write in things I consider to be non-negotiable. These are things that I have decided I need to do every day no matter what. For me this is make time for my blog, a power hour of cleaning, and exercise.
Prioritize your tasks for the day. Fit them in when you are most productive. If you function better in the morning, put more of your brain strain earlier in the day. If you’re a night owl, put your easier work in the morning as you sip your coffee.
I like to use different colours for different life categories in my planner. Pick colours you like and assign them for work, personal, family, friends, etc.
What To Include:
Include your morning routine, right from the moment you wake up. Even go so far as writing “wake up/breakfast/shower” in there. It’s easier to get through a list of things to do when you start off by one that you’ve already completed.
After this, fill in your most important things first and then work backwards to the least important things. If you have deadlines for projects, make sure you are including those. If you have a meeting, clearly that is going to be written in at the beginning.
Make sure you schedule self-care into your day. Most people find time to fit this in during the evening. Self care looks different for everyone. Maybe it’s an evening run, maybe it’s meditation or journaling, maybe it is binge watching Netflix for hours. It is totally unique to each individual.
Having a solid evening routine also needs to be planned. If not, it is easy for hours to slip away from you between work and bed time. Ensure that you are doing things to help you wind down.
Pick an early bed time and try to stick to it! It will help set you up for a wonderful, productive morning!
I’m interested – which planner do you use and how do you make it work for you?